IF you are not on the “list”, stay in your house.
The list of essential activities in which one can engage during the stay-at-home period of Monday March 30 to Wednesday April 15 was released by the Government yesterday.
If you are employed in a service named on the list, you can step out to go to work. If not, as a member of the public, you would be able to make quick stops at the grocery or pharmacy.
If approached by the police you will have to justify your purpose for coming out of SIQ - “separation, isolation and quarantine”. And if you cannot provide a reasonable explanation to law enforcement, you could face a penalty under the law.
This was confirmed yesterday by both Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and National Security Minister Stuart Young.
According to No 4 of the Public Health Coronavirus Regulations: “A person who breaches these Regulations commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for a term of six months.”
Young advised all persons to walk with their IDs - driver’s permit, ID card “at a bare minimum”. He said if the person falls within the essential service, they should walk with their work identification as well so it can be produced to the TTPS or the Defence Force in a supporting role. He also suggested that companies should issue letters to their various workers who have to work.
“Understand that we would be very vigilant and people are to be sent back home, if they don’t fall into these categories,” he said.
Young urged people to abide by the stay-at-home measures, which he said would be implemented from Monday, March 30 to Wednesday, April 15 “in the first instance”.
Young also announced that all public transport in motor vehicles - taxis, maxi-taxis and PTSC buses - must be limited to 50 per cent capacity during the period of the stay-at-home order.
He urged the public not to let maxi-taxi drivers force them to occupy more than 50 per cent of the vehicle.
He reiterated that there are to be no gatherings of over ten unless in a workspace deemed to be essential workspace, and that social distancing is to be maintained.
Young said even though a business may be deemed essential, the Government was asking such businesses to deploy only essential workers who are “essential to operations who cannot stay at home”.
“Not because we call you an essential business, you should be running business as usual and having all your employees out,” he said.
Outdoor exercise not essential
Young said domestic workers who don’t live in the home are not defined as essential under the Regulations and therefore would not be able to travel to go to work.
“We do not want to put our domestic workers...at risk over this period which is really a short period by having them leave their families in their homes to travel, expose themselves and potentially expose their employers and their families. So only live-in domestic workers at this stage are considered to be essential,” he said.
However, he said caregivers for the elderly and differently-abled are deemed essential under the Regulations and therefore can go to work.
For joggers and gym members who usually leave their homes to exercise, they would have to exercise at home, Young said.
He said the NLCB operations would also be suspended.
Vagrants to be moved
What about the vagrants? Young said the Minister of Family Services had a conversation with the ministers of Health and National Security and they were starting with the socially displaced to try and encourage them to go into the shelters.
He said, apart from that, the Government would explore the use of the law if necessary, where the Ministry of Health working with the Minister of National Security would physically move them “as per the law”.
With respect to the policeman who tested positive for COVID-19, Young said all the officers were quarantined and would be tested if they present symptoms and the particular police station was sanitised.
Young said the Government had received many calls and messages from persons wanting to have their services deemed as essential. He said applications for exemptions can be made to the Minister of Health, who, in consultation with the Prime Minister and National Security Minister, will make a determination.
He said the Government had been learning from the mistakes of other countries as it seeks to protect the population from the pandemic virus. Noting that the Government had received many calls and messages from persons thinking their activities should be deemed essential, Young said it could not be business as usual.